NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2020

How will the Capitals replace Henrik Lundqvist? Will the Blues go the free-agent route to replace retired Alexander Steen? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir wonders how the Washington Capitals will replace Henrik Lundqvist as a heart condition has sidelined the 38-year-old goaltender for this season.

Could Ryan Miller be an option for the Washington Capitals to replace Henrik Lundqvist? (NHL Images).

Among the options is signing an unrestricted free agent. Ryan Miller and Jimmy Howard are available. It’s believed Miller prefers to remain out west with his family but El-Bashir wonders if he’d be tempted by the opportunity to play for a contender during a shortened season.

The Capitals could go the trade route or bring in Vitek Vanecek or Pheonix Copley to back up Ilya Samsonov.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen believes the Capitals’ limited cap space makes it difficult to trade for a goaltender. In addition to Miller and Howard, he listed Craig Anderson and Cory Schneider as UFA options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller prefers staying in California and could sign a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks. If that’s not possible, maybe he’d consider joining the Capitals.

Anderson is 39 and it appears his NHL days are over. Schneider is believed to have an agreement with the New York Islanders to be officially announced once they’ve signed Mathew Barzal.

Howard is keen for a bounce-back season following a poor 2019-20 performance with the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings. He could be the Capitals’ best bet if they cannot find a suitable replacement for Lundqvist via trade or from within.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports Alexander Steen’s retirement due to a back injury will provide the St. Louis Blues with salary-cap flexibility. They’re sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.2 million but will get some wiggle room by placing Steen and his $5.75 million cap hit for this season on long-term injury reserve. They will use part of it to sign restricted free agent defenseman Vince Dunn, who might cost approximately $2.5 million.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin suggests the Blues could also use that cap relief to add a scoring winger. His suggested free-agent options include Mike Hoffman, Mikael Granlund and Andreas Athanasiou.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz also suggested Hoffman, Granlund and Athanasiou, as well as forward Erik Haula as UFA targets for the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues could get additional cap relief by placing sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko on LTIR. However, he’s expected to return later this season, prompting Rutherford to speculate they probably won’t “borrow” from his $7.5 million cap hit.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year deal starting at $5.5 million. Maybe he’d accept a lower price to play for a contender but I think he’ll try to stick to his guns. Granlund, Athanasiou and Haula could be more affordable options.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

More on the league’s potential plans for 2020-21, no Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2021, plus the latest on Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz, Vince Dunn, Alexander Steen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league intends to take its time exploring its options for 2020-21 despite a tentative start date of Jan. 1. He also indicated it appears last season’s seven non-playoff clubs will get additional training camp time, though it hasn’t yet been finalized with the NHL Players Association.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

Daly also dismissed the idea that the NHL must crown a Stanley Cup champion before the Tokyo Summer Olympics begin on July 22, 2021. He said there’s a lot to be played out on the Olympic front, adding the league has models that extend beyond the Olympic period.

Border restrictions between Canada and the United States will also factor in what the 2020-21 schedule looks like. If travel for NHL teams remains difficult between the two countries, it could result in what Daly called a possibility to “create competition within the league among the Canadian clubs.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting to note that Daly isn’t rejecting the notion of the NHL schedule coinciding with the Summer Olympics. However, I don’t think that’s going to benefit the league if the playoffs are going on during the two weeks when their main US broadcaster is putting its focus on the Tokyo Games. If the Olympics are canceled or the dates changed, however, it wouldn’t affect the league’s US TV coverage.

For now, of course, this is all speculation. We don’t know yet how long the NHL season will be, let alone when the puck drops for certain.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Bruins defenseman and NHLPA representative Brandon Carlo said the PA and its members remain committed to staging a full 82-games schedule for 2020-21.

Murphy believes one reason behind the 82-game push is to avoid the possibility of the league looking to amend the new collective bargaining agreement to prorate player salaries if the season is shortened by COVID-19.

Carlo also suggested there would be some hesitancy among the players to play under quarantine bubbles again, though they are open to ideas. However, they would be reluctant to be separated from their families as they were during the 2020 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One possibility recently raised is starting next season in several hub cities where the teams play for two weeks, followed by a week back in their home cities to practice and reunite with their families. That scenario could be acceptable to the PA membership.

SPORTSNET: The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it is postponing the induction ceremony for the Class of 2020 to next year and will not name a new class for 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The induction weekend is a significant event that involves a Hall of Fame game in Toronto on the Saturday prior to the actual induction ceremony gala, which takes place in the Hall with family, friends and former teammates of the inductees, as well as NHL executives and established Hall of Famers in attendance. The pandemic makes it impossible to safely stage those events.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Tyler Seguin is expected to undergo hip surgery next week. His recovery period could take four months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin labored through that injury (and a lingering knee injury) during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, during which he got some flak from fans and pundits for what they considered a sub-par performance on his part, with calls that he should “step up his play”. Once again, it’s worth remembering that an NHL player performing below expectations in the postseason could be nursing an injury that adversely affects their game.

Stars general manager Jim Nill said he hopes to have a new deal for Roope Hintz within the next week or two. The 23-year-old forward is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. Nill said he’s had great discussions with Hintz’s agent. The Stars have about $4 million in cap space. Hintz’s new contract could carry an annual cap hit of between $2.5 million and $3 million.

The Stars also signed Julius Honka to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. The 24-year-old defenseman spent last season playing in Finland and had asked for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Honka is well down the Stars’ blueline depth chart and faces a daunting challenge cracking the lineup. He must also clear waivers to be demoted to their AHL affiliate.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t concerned over Vince Dunn remaining unsigned, indicating the 24-year-old defenseman is still part of their plans for next season. He pointed out it’s not unusual for restricted free agents to wait until training camp to sign contracts.

The Blues are about $1.1 million over the $81.5 million salary cap. However, Armstrong pointed out they’ll have “an abundance of cap space” given the Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen “situations”. Tarasenko will miss the start of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. Armstrong’s comments are a strong indicator Steen could miss the start of the season with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly lists Tarasenko and Steen on injured reserve. Their combined salaries ($13.25 million) provides the Blues with ample room to re-sign Dunn. It could also provide sufficient room to make a short-term addition to their roster if necessary.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed restricted free agent forward Joey Anderson to a three-year contract (two-way in the first two seasons) worth an annual average value of $750K. They also signed unrestricted free agent goalie Michael Hutchinson to a two-year, two-way contract worth $750K annually.

SPORTSNET: The Ontario government reaffirmed its stance that bodychecking and deliberate physical contact will not take place during sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) indicates it will follow scientific studies in crafting its return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie raises some important questions about the Ontario government’s plan:

 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2020

The latest on Patrik Laine and Mike Hoffman plus updates on the Bruins and Ducks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON LAINE

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck notes TSN’s reporting Patrik Laine’s agents suggesting a trade for their client might be mutually beneficial for Laine and the Jets, comparing it to Jacob Trouba’s agent requesting a trade back in 2016. He was traded in 2019 to the New York Rangers.

Winnipeg Jets left wing Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Billeck wonders how it reached this point with Laine, pointing out the Jets’ difficulty of retaining some of their stars. He suggests the blame lies not with the city or other issues but within the organization. He also wondered how that could affect the morale of Laine’s teammates if he’s the latest star to head out the door.

Billeck feels the club has failed to provide Laine with a center to play with. He feels there’s no reason Laine can’t be the top-line left wing while Kyle Connor plays with Nikolaj Ehlers on the second line.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe also cites Laine’s probable disappointment in not getting first-line minutes. He wouldn’t be surprised if general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was dangling the winger in the trade pond to see what offers he might attract to address the Jets’ roster needs.

He doubts any public attempt by Laine’s agents to force the issue will work with Cheveldayoff, pointing out it years before Trouba and Evander Kane were dealt after making trade requests.

Wiebe doesn’t believe the Jets would trade Laine for just pennies on the dollar. He listed seven teams (Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets) that could have the assets to acquire the young sniper.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe’s proposals include such notables as Florida’s Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau, Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, Carolina’s Brett Pesce and Martin Necas, Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim, Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm, the Islanders Brock Nelson and Ryan Pulock, and Columbus’ Zach Werenski. Some of those, like Huberdeau, could be part of a one-for-one swap. The rest would have to be the centerpiece of a larger package.

Laine’s agents can suggest a trade but that doesn’t mean Cheveldayoff will do it. The return has to make sense for the Jets. Hanging over this, of course, is Laine’s contract. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’ll demand a significant raise over his $6.75-million annual average value.

Perhaps this situation gets resolved by moving Laine to the first line and dropping Connor down to the second line with Ehlers and Paul Stastny. He lights it up next season, the Jets reward him with a lucrative long-term deal and everyone’s happy. Another option is Laine goes to arbitration next summer, ensuring he’ll be leaving Winnipeg when he reaches UFA eligibility at 25. Or Cheveldayoff gets a trade offer too good to pass up in the coming weeks.

What’s certain is we haven’t heard the last of Laine in offseason trade chatter.

POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS FOR HOFFMAN

THE SCORE: Matt Teague and Brandon Maron list the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Florida Panthers as possible destinations for Mike Hoffman. The 30-year-old winger remains the best available player in this year’s UFA market. He’s reportedly willing to accept a one-year contract worth around $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators, Bruins and Blue Jackets have been linked to him in recent trade speculation. The Preds have the cap space to meet his salary demand. The Bruins have over $12 million available but must also re-sign Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk and Zdeno Chara. The Jackets must re-sign first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois before they commit dollars to another forward.

The Kings have over $13 million in cap space and recently acquired Olli Maatta from the Chicago Blackhawks. GM Rob Blake, however, seems intent on maintaining his rebuilding program. Adding an expensive, short-term veteran doesn’t seem to fit into that plan. As for the Panthers, they could circle back to Hoffman now that Evgenii Dadonov has departed for Ottawa.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens look at six possible replacements for Ryan Miller if he doesn’t return as the Anaheim Ducks backup. He suggested Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, Michael Hutchinson, Garret Sparks, Adin Hill and Pheonix Copley.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty cites a couple of sources saying the Bruins could consider former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner as a cheap insurance option in case youngsters like Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril show they aren’t ready for prime time










NHL Trade Roundup: Reviewing the Deals Last Week

NHL Trade Roundup: Reviewing the Deals Last Week

 










Blackhawks Trade Saad to Avs for Zadorov, Leafs Trade Johnsson to Devils

Blackhawks Trade Saad to Avs for Zadorov, Leafs Trade Johnsson to Devils

NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis reports the Blackhawks traded winger Brandon Saad and defenseman Dennis Gilbert to the Colorado Avalanche for defensemen Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm.

Chicago Blackhawks trade Brandon Saad to the Colorado Avalanche (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: The Blackhawks are also retaining $1 million of Saad $6 million salary-cap hit for 2020-21.

This move should take the Avalanche out of the bidding for unrestricted free agent left wing Taylor Hall. Saad, 26, will skate on left wing on the Avs’ second line. He’s a former two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks who tallied 20-plus goals in five of the last six seasons, including 21 in 58 games last season. Saad is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Gilbert, 23, is a physical defenseman who split last season between the Blackhawks and their AHL affiliate. He’s in the third year of his entry-level deal at a more affordable $925k, far cheaper than what it would’ve cost the Avs to re-sign Zadorov, a restricted free agent coming off a one-year, $3.2-million contract. Whether he’ll earn a full-time role with the Avs remains to be seen.

The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Zadorov will bring size and physicality to the Blackhawks’ blueline. Cap Friendly reports he’s already agreed to a one-year. $3.2 million deal with the Hawks. Lindholm, 25, spent parts of the past four season between the Avs and their minor-league affiliate.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs traded forward Andreas Johnsson to the New Jersey Devils for forward Joey Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman’s colleague Chris Johnston reports the Devils are acquiring Johnsson’s full $3.4 million annual average value through 2022-23. Anderson, 22, is a restricted free agent who played 52 games over the last two seasons with the Devils.

This is an obvious salary dump by the Leafs to clear cap space following yesterday’s signings of T.J. Brodie and Wayne Simmonds. The Leafs were above the $81.5 million cap by over $1 million following those signings. This will provide some additional cap space but they could need a little more to re-sign Anderson and fellow restricted free agents Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev.

Johnsson will provide some much-needed depth to the Devils’ forward lines. While the 25-year-old winger was hampered by injury last season, he’s a good skater with a decent scoring touch. He tallied 20 goals and 43 points as a rookie in 2018-19.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2020

The Jets are reportedly close to acquiring Paul Stastny, Justin Williams retires, the Canadiens re-sign Josh Anderson, the Devils buy out Cory Schneider, and much more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck cites sources claiming the Jets are working on a trade that would bring Paul Stastny back to Winnipeg. Stastny was briefly part of the Jets in 2017-18, helping them reach the Western Conference Final before signing with the Vegas Golden Knights as a free agent. It’s believed the Jets will take on his full $6.5 million salary-cap hit on the final year of his three-year contract, with the two clubs also swapping draft picks.

**UPDATE** TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Stastny to Winnipeg for a 2022 fourth rounder and defenseman Carl Dahlstrom

Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny could return to the Winnipeg Jets (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing back Stastny could address the Jets’ need for a second-line center. That suggests sidelined center Bryan Little’s status for next season remains in doubt while putting to rest the trade speculation swirling about winger Patrik Laine.

It will also signal the Golden Knights are shedding salary to be busy in the free-agent market, which opens at noon ET today. The move could also be an indicator of the difficulty the Golden Knights are having trying to move goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in a cost-cutting deal.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams announced his retirement yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Williams and his family in his future endeavors. He spent 19 seasons in the NHL with the Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals, winning the Stanley Cup with the Canes in 2006 and two Cups with the Kings in 2012 and 2014. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy during the latter run, earning the nickname “Mr. Game 7” by holding the record for most points (15) in Game 7 situations. In 1,264 games, Williams tallied 320 goals and 797 points. He also had 41 goals and 102 points in 162 playoff games.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Two days after acquiring winger Josh Anderson, the Canadiens re-signed him to a seven-year, $38.5-million contract. The annual average value is $5.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a hefty new contract for a 26-year-old winger who’s yet to suit up for the Canadiens,  has one good season (27 goals, 47 points in 2018-19) and missed most of last season to a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair.

General manager Marc Bergevin envisions the 6’3”, 222-pounder as a power forward. This will be seen as a worthwhile investment if Anderson has fully recovered from his surgery and plays up to expectation. Otherwise, it’ll provide additional fodder for Bergevin critics and turn up the pressure on Habs ownership to fire their GM.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed goaltender Cory Schneider on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out his contract. Schneider, 34, lost the starter’s job to Mackenzie Blackwood. He has two years left on his contract worth $6 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schneider was among the NHL’s top goalies from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Injuries, however, hampered his performance in recent years. His buyout will count as $2 million annually against the Devils’ cap through 2023-24.

NJ.COM: The Devils also acquired defenseman Ryan Murray from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray is a skilled defenseman plagued by injuries for most of his career. He has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.6 million. If he stays healthy he could be a worthwhile addition to the Devils’ blueline. They still have over $25 million in salary-cap space and could use some of it in the upcoming free-agent market.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets also traded defenseman Markus Nutivaara to the Florida Panthers for minor-league forward Cliff Pu. Nutivaara, 26, has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $2.7 million.

THE SCORE: The Jackets also placed center Alexander Wennberg on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a contract buyout. The 26-year-old has three years left on his contract worth $4.9 million AAV. For buyout purposes, however, he’ll be considered 25 as that’s what his age would’ve been during a normal regular season when the buyout period would be in June. That means his buyout will be calculated at one-third the remaining value, rather than two-thirds.

NHL.COM: The Jackets also re-signed goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks to a two-year, two-way contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The moves leave the Jackets with $14.2 million in cap space, more than enough to re-sign Pierre-Luc Dubois and perhaps leave enough for an addition or two via trade or free agency.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Long time Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is heading to the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford spent 13 seasons with the Blackhawks, 10 of those as their starting goalie. He backstopped them to two Stanley Cups (2013, 2015) but has been plagued by injuries over the past three seasons. Expect the Blackhawks to seek his replacement via trade or free agency.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators acquired defenseman Erik Gudbranson from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick. He has a year remaining on his contract with an AAV of $4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another short-term pickup by the Senators to take some pressure off their developing young defensemen. The Ducks, meanwhile, have $4.47 million in cap space and will get an additional $6.875 million in wiggle room should Ryan Kesler remain on long-term injury reserve.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Goaltender Tuukka Rask said he doesn’t want to play for anyone but the Bruins. Rask’s name recently surfaced in trade rumors, prompting GM Don Sweeney to claim the goalie is a “big part of the roster going forward.” Rask is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

TSN: The Dallas Stars lifted the interim tag from head coach Rick Bowness, who is expected to sign a new contract with the club.

SPORTSNET: The Stars also released a lengthy list of their injured players following the Stanley Cup playoffs. Among the notables was Jamie Benn (shoulder surgery before the schedule was paused), Tyler Seguin (knee, torn labrum), Ben Bishop (knee surgery in May), Roope Hintz (fractured ankle) and Anton Khudobin (arm surgery).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin received criticism for his offensive struggles during the postseason. This is yet another reminder that an NHL player failing to play up to expectations in playoff action is usually nursing an injury that would sideline athletes in other sports.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres are close to re-signing forward Zemgus Girgensons to a three-year contract worth around $2 million per season.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Sam Lafferty to a two-year contract with an AAV of $750K.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Noah Juulsen to a one-year, two-way contract.